Monday, November 28, 2011
“Dang it, Lamar,” Jamie said, “of all the fool things you ever talked me into, this has gotta be the foolest.”
“Chico, I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the foolish things I want to talk you into. This, however, isn’t one of them. This is for a good cause. Tell him, Bo.”
“You heard the man,” Bo Ewing said. Like Jamie, he wore a simple terrycloth robe, though his was several sizes larger than Jamie’s. Like Jamie, he was naked beneath it. “Dante’s pin-up calendar makes a ton of money for local charities every year. You want to tell the kids at the hospital they won’t be getting a new dialysis machine because you got cold – ” He eyed Jamie’s groinal region and finished with a chuckle, “Feet?”
“I get the charity bit,” Jamie snapped. “I don’t get nudie shots of men. The Talbot’s Peak gay community ain’t that big. Oughtn’t you make one of nekkid women or something?”
“We’ve got one of those, too.” Dante himself entered just in time to catch, and answer, Jamie’s question. A long-legged, barrel-chested stranger in a Stetson followed him in. “The male calendar outsells it three to one, every single year.” He winked at Bo and the other man. “There’s a lot of randy shes in Talbot’s Peak.”
Lamar elbowed Jamie. “Told you.”
“And I told you,” Dante said to Lamar, “you can’t be in the women’s calendar. We’ve still got some uptight folks who’d burn my bar if they realized they were looking at a man.”
“Chillax, jefe. I’m moral support for the shy boy here. Also prop. One way or another, I’m getting into the calendar.”
“Not if you keep holding up production,” Mr. Ed, the photographer, said with an annoyed sniff. He was a slender, horse-faced man with a long blond ponytail. “You ready, son?”
“As he’ll ever be,” Lamar said, and shifted into his boa form.
“Dang foolishness,” Jamie muttered. “I ought’a be behind the camera, not in front of it.”
“You’re the one agreed to it,” Bo said with a grin and no sympathy. “By the way, where’s Porker? Don’t tell me he chickened out.”
“I’m afraid so,” Dante said. “Fortunately Dash here agreed to stand in. Exit biker, enter cowboy. I don’t think the ladies will mind.”
“Are you going to pose or not?” Ed said to Jamie.
“I’m gettin’ there,” Jamie said. Like diving into a pond, he told himself. You jump in all at once, it ain’t so bad. He loosened the robe and let it fall before stepping in front of the camera. Lamar slithered up his leg and wrapped around his torso, with one thick coil strategically draped across Jamie’s sinful bits. His forked tongue licked the curve of Jamie’s ear.
“Quit it,” Jamie mumbled. “How y’all want me?”
“Relax,” Ed instructed. “There’s good stiff and bad stiff. You’re giving me bad stiff.” He handed Jamie an apple. “Have fun with it.”
Sure, have a blast showing himself off like a side of beef with Lamar hanging all over him. It’s for the kids, he kept telling himself, and struck what he hoped was a provocative pose.
“Atta boy, Jamie,” Bo called encouragement. “You’re a natural. Didn’t we do this shot last year?”
“Gypsy as Eve? Yes, I remember. She’s pairing with Sergei this year.”
“I’m guessing he’ll be tiger. I can’t imagine him naked. Oh wait, yes I can. Terrific, now I can’t get that picture out of my head. Somebody describe their last date or something.”
“I was with a zebra last night,” Ed announced. “They bite, and in the most interesting places. Happy? Good. Now be quiet. I’m trying to create magic here.”
He took several shots of “Adam and the Serpent” before he pronounced himself satisfied. Jamie snatched up his robe and yanked it on with Lamar still wrapped around him. The snake’s head poked out of the robe’s V neckline. Jamie idly rubbed it with a finger.
“Who wants to go next?” Ed said. “Come on, boys. Time is money.”
“I’ll go,” Dash offered. “I got some things to pick up in town, then I need to get back to work.” He stripped off his shirt, revealing a tanned chest just made for porn shoots. He stepped in front of the camera.
“Hey!” Jamie said. “How come he gets to keep his pants on?”
“’Cause I got a jealous lady at home,” Dash replied easily. He repositioned his Stetson at a rakish angle. “Wish I had a horse to pose with. Make this a helluva shot.”
“That can be arranged,” Ed said. He was practically drooling. “You. ‘Adam.’ Did you say you’re a photographer?”
Jamie stepped up to the camera and pronounced himself familiar with the type. Ed shed his clothes in a blink and shifted into a shiny-coated palomino, far handsomer than his human form. Jamie tossed Dash the apple and started shooting, with Dante, Bo and a once-again human Lamar looking over his shoulder. Jamie ignored them all, totally focused on his creative vision.
“Oohh, nice,” Ed said upon regaining human shape. “Look at that lighting! Son, you’re a natural. Ever done these types of shots before?”
“Uhhhh … ”
“Just with me,” Lamar spoke up. “I got one on me. Wanna see?”
“I’d rather see your portfolio.” Ed recovered his slacks from the chair where he’d tossed them and fished a business card out of his pocket. “If you’d like a job, or just freelance work, I can use a talented helper. Anyone can snap a photo. You’ve got an artist’s eye.”
Jamie glanced around uneasily at the half-naked and naked men in the studio, which now included Ed. “I dunno. You do a lot of this?”
“As much as I can get,” Ed said with a horsy grin. “Sadly, most of it’s simple formal portraits. Luckily for my tastes, there are those who like to do erotic shots for their mates. Men and women. Best of both worlds.”
“He’ll do it,” Lamar said, clapping Jamie on the shoulder. “You can shoot the covers for my novels.”
“You write gay porn.”
“Give me a call,” Ed said. “We’ll talk. Now, who’s up next?”
“Guess that’s me.” Bo let his robe drop and stood in all his bighorn glory. He tossed a football from hand to hand. “How do you want me to hold it?”